After an intense day during which police were extremely busy with protests and soccer fans, Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel has condemned attacks on officers. Violence had nothing to do with politics, he said.
On Saturday, radical left-wingers who are part of the squatter scene at ‘Rigaer Strasse’ in Berlin’s ‘Friedrichshain’ district threw stones, furniture and street signs at police. At a construction site, they grabbed building material and turned it into weapons too. Sixteen police officers were slightly injured.
Attacks with Stones and Color Bombs
Closer to one of Berlin’s two city centers, in ‘Magazinstrasse’, a mob threw color bombs and stones at an office run by the police department in which fines are collected. At both places, vehicles were damaged. Police in riot gear appeared at a building occupied by radicals in ‘Rigaer Strasse’ after the latter started shooting pyrotechnics at officers as well.
On Saturday, several demonstrations, including one against the closure of a pub called ‘Syndikat’, one by Kurds who protested Turkey’s military operation in Syria and other rallies had kept police busy. On top of it all, they had to deal with a big soccer match and hooligans who used fireworks as well.
Senator Geisel said on Sunday, police it Berlin had been challenged yet again. He thanked all officers who had been on duty this weekend, working “for our safety”. He wished the injured police personnel a speedy recovery and strongly condemned the violence.
‘No Place for Violence in Political Dispute’
“Whoever attacks people who are securing the right of assembly has moved away from any serious political debate”, Geisel stated. He said blind rage and criminal energy had been at work on Saturday. “I can not repeat our fundamental consensus on democracy often enough: There is no place for violence in the political dispute.”
Earlier, members of the opposition in the city state of Berlin had voiced criticism. Burkard Dregger of the conservative CDU said he blamed the red-red-green coalition “personally” for the blind hatred and violence against police at ‘Rigaer Strasse’. He called for video reconnaissance, which the Berlin police already uses, as well as a ban on wearing face coverings, which is already in place, and a weapons ban.
By “red-red-green coalition”, he meant Governing Mayor Michael Müller’s coalition consisting of his Social Democrats, ‘The Left’ and the Greens who have been ruling Berlin for two years now.
Reinforcement for Berlin Police
Because a busy Saturday had been expected, Berlin’s police department had gotten reinforcement from other federal states, including Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, North Rhine Wesphalia, Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania and the Federal Police. This is the case on a regular basis when it comes to securing protests or guarding the government in Berlin and its guests or the Bundestag.
The Berlin police has 25,000 officers and trainees and a budget of 1.5 billion Euro per year. Because of its role in the capital of Germany, part of its budget is being covered by the state. The city state of Berlin pays the other part.